Noise trauma impairs neurogenesis in the rat hippocampus

K. S. Kraus, S. Mitra, Z. Jimenez, S. Hinduja, D. Ding, H. Jiang, L. Gray, E. Lobarinas, W. Sun, R. J. Salvi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

145 Scopus citations


The hippocampus, a major site of neurogenesis in the adult brain, plays an important role in memory. Based on earlier observations where exposure to high-intensity noise not only caused hearing loss but also impaired memory function, it is conceivably that noise exposure may suppress hippocampal neurogenesis. To evaluate this possibility, nine rats were unilaterally exposed for 2 h to a high-intensity, narrow band of noise centered at 12 kHz at 126 dB SPL. The rats were also screened for noise-induced tinnitus, a potential stressor which may suppress neurogenesis. Five rats developed persistent tinnitus-like behavior while the other four rats showed no signs of tinnitus. Age-matched sham controls showed no signs of hearing loss or tinnitus. The inner ear and hippocampus were evaluated for sensory hair cell loss and neurogenesis 10 weeks post-exposure. All noise exposed rats showed severe loss of sensory hair cells in the noise-exposed ear, but essentially no damage in the unexposed ear. Frontal sections from the hippocampus were immunolabeled for doublecortin to identify neuronal precursor cells, or Ki67 to label proliferating cells. Noise-exposed rats showed a significant reduction of neuronal precursors and fewer dividing cells as compared to sham controls. However, we could not detect any difference between rats with behavioral evidence of tinnitus versus rats without tinnitus. These results show for the first time that high intensity noise exposure not only damages the cochlea but also causes a significant and persistent decrease in hippocampal neurogenesis that may contribute to functional deficits in memory.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1216-1226
Number of pages11
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jun 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Doublecortin
  • Hearing loss
  • Ki67
  • Memory
  • Subgranular zone
  • Tinnitus


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